March 11, 2019
New Delhi: Calling the upcoming Lok Sabha elections a choice between chaos and Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said what the Opposition had promised to be a “mahagathbandhan” (grand alliance) was turning out to be an alliance of several conflicting “gathbandhans” with multiple leaders, each trying to outwit the other.
Jaitley said that going by past precedents, such an alliance could only lead to chaos. “The choice is clear — it is either Modi or chaos,” he said in a Facebook post.
The Finance Minister said while several issues occupied the agenda space in an election, the issue of foremost relevance in 2019 was that of leadership where the Bharatiya Janata Party with “absolute clarity” was a clear winner against a “self-destructive coalition of rivals” in which the leadership issue was an “absolute puzzle”.
“Within the NDA there are no leadership issues. There is absolute clarity. Narendra Modi leads the NDA and will be the Prime Minister in the event of a victory. His leadership is nationally accepted, his ratings are very high. His track record speaks for itself,” Jaitley said.
On the other hand, he said, was Congress President Rahul Gandhi “who is an inadequate leader” and has been “tried, tested and failed”.
“His lack of understanding of issues is frightening. He aspires to be the leader of this chaotic pack,” Jaitley said.
He said Mamata Bannerjee was positioning herself as the “sutradhar” (architect) of this grand alliance but “won’t concede a single seat either to the Congress or the Left in West Bengal but will want them to be her pillion riders if she drives the vehicle.”
Taking about the other opposition parties, Jaitley said the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) would contest against the Congress but eventually join hands, and so would the Trinamool and the Congress-Left alliance in West Bengal.
“However, in Kerala the Congress and the Left will contest against each other. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (NC) tried to form the government together with the support of the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Today they are rivals in an election and on the dangerous agenda of either ‘autonomy’ or ‘pre-1953 status’, but could join hands with the ‘gathbandhan’. The Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) are not with the ‘gathbandhan’,” he said.
Jaitley said the BSP was wiped out in the last Lok Sabha elections and Mayawati had now changed her strategy and wanted a strong BSP and a weak Congress.
“She holds her cards close to her chest. She will open them only after the results are declared…Leaders with flexible ideologies think that they are acceptable to all. The opposition alliance is unclear — it is absolutely fragile,” he said.
Jaitley added that none of the opposition parties were capable of winning any significant number of seats and the alliance won’t have a stable nucleus.
“What was promised to be ‘mahagathbandhan’ is turning out to be a ‘gathbandhan’ of several conflicting alliances. It is a self-destructive ‘coalition of rivals’,” he said.
“The contest is against a leader in whose hands the country is secure and developing. He is trusted. Against him, there isn’t any projected leader. There are multiple leaders, each trying to outwit the other. They can only promise a temporary government if we go by the past precedents. One can be certain of chaos. The choice is clear, it is either Modi or chaos,” Jaitley said.